Giving women and young girls equal opportunity to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education as well as 'future of work' helps enhance inclusion and reduce gender inequality. PeopleStories believes in equality and has established the STEMforGirls Scholarship since late 2020. S4G is the top level of our School for Life program and it enables selected high potential girls to obtain STEM education.
PeopleStories Founder, Victoria, went down the memory lane and recited some of the precious moments, “Teacher Sarith was over the moon when we took him to visit a few STEM and Technology schools in Phnom Penh. And I will never forget how KongNov and SreyMey started their journey back in 2020.”
KongNov and SreyMey have been on S4G for almost 2 years now and PoKim started on this exciting journey earlier this year. Having the opportunity to learn with great teachers, highly motivated students, interesting new subjects and school semester 1 just being completed, we are curious to see how the 3 girls are.
It is tough enough to pass the entrance exam to the STEM school. It is even tougher to study and stay afloat in the totally new curriculum. Coming from a rural village school, the girls are staying at the hostel with everyday chores looking after themselves, on top of studying a number of new subjects in English, a language that they are struggling with. It is just like sailing against the current. It takes a lot of grit, tenacity and resilience to go through the rigorous curriculum with not only new subjects taught in an unfamiliar language but also projects, competitions and surprise tests! All of that without the support of their family who are still back in Siem Reap.
Facing such strong currents, how did the girls feel about their Semester 1? Sreymey thought she was going to fail a Computational Thinking subject. Unexpectedly, she has passed all her subjects! It was not an easy journey for her though.
On the other hand, KongNov and Pokim have received some unsatisfactory results and they reflected on taking steps to make the much required improvements.
Pokim, the newly-minted STEM scholar, mused, “For Semester 1, I felt some sadness and some happiness. For all of the subjects, it's difficult for me because the exercises and questions that the teacher asks me need to think a lot like History and Earth Science.”
Pokim elaborated, “Subjects that I struggled with are History, Biology and Earth Science. I think it's difficult for me. I tried to research it. Sometimes I speak alone and try to explain to myself to understand these subjects.”
Pokim further revealed earnestly, “I tried to tell myself I must do it! And I gave myself a treat when I understood the lessons like milk or cake. I research on YouTube, Facebook and Google when I don't understand the lessons. Every problem has a solution, try and I will get everything that I tried.”
With Semester 2 going in full swing, the conversations shifted to looking into the present and the future. KongNov declared with determination, “I feel better and I can manage my time. My goal is to pass all subjects at least 60% for each subject. And understand more about concepts I mean apply in real life.”
Being more goal focused, Sreymey shared, “My goal is to have a great experience in grade 11, I'll complete those 3 projects well. So then in grade 12, I will have two choices to choose. First one, Just focus on studying, because I have tried many difficult times in grade 11 already. And the second and also the last one is also to join some projects in grade 12 but only one or two if I can...”
The 3 girls may continue to encounter stumbling blocks in their pursuit of their STEM dreams. With the mindset of ‘every problem has a solution’, they will surprise us with the hurdles they cleared.
Want to plod them on in their arduous yet meaningful journey? Follow their stories today: https://www.peoplestories.net/school-for-life.html
Story written by: Volunteer Bok Hoon Ong
When a school semester comes to an end there is the feeling of accomplishment and the feeling of looking ahead to what can be improved. Our scholarship children at PeopleStories recently completed School Semester 1 and for the first time in PeopleStories history, a semester analysis was performed to get a sense of oru children’s achievements, potential problems and risk of children dropping out of school.
A recent report in the Phnom Penh Post stresses the need for change and improvement to education in the rural areas of Cambodia. It has been 5 years since we started our core program School for Life to help the deserving children complete school. In that time, we have gone from 21 scholarships in 2017 to 150 scholarships this year. It has been amazing to see this program grow in such a short amount of time
Victoria proudly shared, “31 of our scholarship children have achieved their ‘Top 10’ positions in their rather large class (average 50 students). This truly proves that many of our deserving children can go the extra mile!”
Unfortunately, 7 of our children have dropped out of school and 1 of them is now an under-aged mother and a widow, too. Victoria said with a shaken voice, “My heart goes out to these children as their life journey may become more challenging as soon as they leave school.”
“As I continue to witness how little these children and their families have, it is a constant reminder for me how important our work is for these children.” Sarith shared with much emotion.
It’s all too obvious how challenging life and school are for the children in Cambodia. We’re not looking the other way and PeopleStories is committed to helping these deserving children learn how to make the necessary changes to give themselves a brighter future. Assuring they have access to quality education is both the obstacle and the answer. Education is the key to change. We celebrate our successes and we learn where we can improve.
PeopleStories continues to grow and learn and we look forward to Semester 2 with our children and would love for you to come along with us! Please consider helping a child complete school. PeopleStories SchoolForLife 2022
Story written by: Volunteer Kathy Aunkst
Over the past month, our Founder Victoria has been busy conducting problem solving workshops for both students and teachers in Cambodia. We have named this program: I-Grow. I-Grow is an active-based learning experience focusing on life skills. The first ever I-Grow was for problem solving and we shared it with 150 deserving children in our district of Bakong.
With the overwhelmingly positive feedback about the workshop and its experience, the Ministry has requested PeopleStories to train their school directors too! We were pleasantly surprised and pleased to be able to share the power of I-Grow.
“The most memorable part of the experience was about working in a team with the school director. As a team, we had to learn how to work well together and be receptive to the opinions and suggestions of all members.” Teacher Pich shared. “Hence, it was a good project that encouraged self-improvement and helped develop my knowledge and skills.”
If you would like to support our cause and help to improve education for both our students and teachers in Cambodia, you can donate here! Otherwise, we wish all our supporters a fantastic month ahead!
Story written by: Volunteer Zeleen
Pokim is one latest scholar of STEM4Girls scholarship program who has moved to Phnom Penh for her studies 4 months ago. This year, Pokim is studying in grade 11 and has just reached home for some school holidays. As someone who likes studying science and IT topics, let’s find out how the new school has been for her so far and what she has planned for this school break!
Pokim certainly is shining with her resilience and resourcefulness in her studies. There is no doubt that she will be able to overcome future challenges with her positive attitude!
Pokim conveyed that she missed her family a lot because she wasn’t able to see them for 4 months and hence is very enthusiastic about this holiday break. “ I am very happy and excited! I look forward to travelling and eating with my family when I am home!” We wish that her dreams were fulfilled and she was able to enjoy some amazing delicacies with her family.
If you’d like to support girls like Pokim to complete school, you can donate here, thank you for all your support and happy April!
Story written by: Volunteer Zeleen Thum
PeopleStories achieved its new milestone on 19 April 2022 by organising the I-Grow Holiday Learning Program for its 150 scholarship children. I-Grow is designed to empower the rural community, including children, teachers and their families with greater life skills to make sustainable change.
I-Grow is a newly established interactive learning program and this time we are focusing on Problem Solving skills. In a constantly changing environment and with the dramatic impact from the pandemic, life skills are an essential part of being able to meet the challenges of everyday life.
When talking about the challenges, Maria said that not being familiar with the context nor the language is a challenge. “It is difficult to plan without too much knowledge of the context and I constantly questioned if the activities were at the level of the learners, but Victoria and Pheak Heng (also a virtual volunteer of PeopleStories) were fantastic in helping answer all the questions.”
Maria, who dedicated her life to education said: “I have been working in supporting professors at the university level in enhancing their teaching. I have also been working with students in creating spaces for them to learn how to become lifelong learners. I hope we get to run many more iterations of I-Grow and provide PeopleStories children the skills needed in their near future.”
With full endorsement, Director Reangsey from the Ministry shared at his closing remarks, "I am delighted to see the active participation to all the learning activities from our students and teachers. Thank you PeopleStories for bringing the power of education to Bakong, especially the important life skill like problem solving."
Would you want to help us expand I-Grow with the deserving children in rural Cambodia? Join us as a virtual volunteer now: https://bit.ly/Join_PS
Story written by: Volunteer Pei Khoek
After of two years of only zoom video of the ceremony, Founder Victoria finally returned to Cambodia to attend the School for Life Scholarship ceremony in person. With high spirits, Victoria got to witness the arrival of the bikes, setting up of the tentage for the ceremony and follow the teachers on their home visits to deeply understand how the children's family situation is.
As Victoria gave out the scholarship and took photographs with the awardees, the act of gifting dreams to these children brought great happiness. The vibrant performance by the children and the earnest speech of the parents all culminated in a dream come true for the children, parents and the community.
This is exactly what PeopleStories aims to do: to provide an opportunity for deserving children to receive quality education. PeopleStories goes beyond just providing school fees and books. We gifted bicycles, extra classes for Math, Physics, Khmer and Chemistry. With these aspects taken care of, the willing students have a fighting chance to go as far as they strive for.
‘I love going to school because I can learn many things. I like learning Khmer because it is a very easy subject for me to learn,” said a new scholarship student earnestly. His home has no door nor flooring. Everything he has can be seen in a glance. His mother has passed away from Aids and his ailing father is suffering from Aids. Sadly, he is also infected with Aids from birth. Yet, he remains hopeful and has the wish of becoming a teacher one day. These students love their village and aspire to improve the housing and transport of their village.
Want to create chances for those without? Please donate at:
Story written by: volunteer Bok Hoon Ong
Happy 2022! Entering the new year, there are so many new and exciting projects that PeopleStories team is working on and we are looking forward to sharing with you!
One of them is the construction of fences around Chea Smonn Secondary School! There isn’t any boundary around the school. Instead, the school compound is directly connected to a few neighbouring farms. Hence, every so often, there are animals like cows wandering into the school compound, and at times, into the classrooms! Occasionally, farming machines (such as tractors) will also come into the school grounds where students are running and playing. This peculiar phenomenon compromises the safety of our students.
PeopleStories believes in encouraging the locals and communities to get involved in community changes for sustainable positive changes. Many older students and their families are dropping in whenever they have time to give a helping hand, we are so excited to see the strong community spirit!
School Director Nika of Chea Smonn Secondary School said excitedly, “I envision more order in school with the building of the fences. Students will be more attentive during lessons. I imagine the school to have good aesthetics and campus, safe with space to grow vegetables. The building of this fence will definitely help with this goal!”
Like Director Nika, we look forward to the improved school and learning environment for our students! We truly hope that this fence project will bring about positive changes in their school experience!
If you want to support our cause and more projects like this, head over to our fundraising page here to donate! This year we are aiming to give out 150 scholarships to our students!
Wishing you an amazing start to 2022!
Story written by: Volunteer Zeleen Thum
It is a dream come true for Pokim when she heard the news about her STEM4Girls scholarship! Pokim said resolutely, “I am so happy to be selected for STEM4Girls scholarship. I will put in extra efforts to improve my spoken English and computer skills.”
If you remember, Pokim is one of the students, who has contributed time and efforts in the preparation of the “Zero Waste” competition. She has just relocated to the capital city of Phnom Penh for this life changing opportunity. We are thrilled to see her taking yet another step closer to reach her dreams.
In fact, a survey conducted by the UNICEF in 2012 shows that 36.1% of children in the country aged between 5 and 17 work as labourers, with more than 5 percent engaged in hazardous labouring tasks.
In the Cambodian society, customarily, boys are considered more important than girls. This belief is taught from one generation to another and has been largely shaped by the ‘Chbab Srey’ – sort of Code of Conduct for women – in which, basically, women are taught to be “worthless”.
Poverty, stereotypes and distance to school also are the main reasons that keep girls out of school (instead of complete school). Additional factors also include lack of career opportunities, corruption, the lack of latrines and sanitary facilities and the lack of female teacher (or even female school directors).
Would you like to play a part in helping more girls gain access to STEM education? Wave your magic wand for the girls, make a donation today: https://ps-schoolforlife2022.raisely.com/
Story written by: Volunteer Bok Hoon Ong
We have our winners from our Zero Waste competition!
On 10th November, all the finalists gathered together for the final judging. Along with Teacher Sarith and Teacher Song, who helped to translate between the judges and the students, each finalist had a chance to pitch to the panel that their product deserves to win! It was heartwarming to see the local community wearing their PeopleStories uniform and talking to one another as they shared their creations.
Our judges included Mr. Reangsey Tann, the Director of Ministry of Education (Bakong District) and Victoria, our founder, Matt LeNevez, our charity ambassador, Pavlos Spyroupoulos, our corporate supporter and CEO of Llyod’s Asia and Ghada Turner, another one of our corporate supporters and CEO of Pantry to Plate.
How did the judges feel about Borey’s createion? “The judges and I were blown away by Borey’s creativity for designing the travel luggage. He is so resourceful by upcycling used milk cans as wheels and water pipes as handles. We were also inspired to hear about his dream for being a footballer and how this travel luggage will bring him overseas,” Victoria gushed. We certainly think that he is one amazing boy with incredible aspirations too!
Like Borey, another winner Solyn from the Student & Family Category, was ecstatic when she heard that she had won first place in the competition! She mused on how this competition has changed the way she now look at waste, “Before I think that waste can’t be reused but now, we can reuse and change it into other things that can use to decorate school or home.” We are truly happy to see that this competition has created a mindset shift in our participants.
On why Solyn’s and her family’s creation were Champions, Victoria raved, “Solyn’s pitch performance was one of the best! We were all very impressed not only by the items she made but by her enormous courage to speak up. We certainly heard her voice about sustainability loud and clear.” Hearing that, we sure think that she deserved to win!
Victoria summed up the thoughts of the judging panel, “The amount of creativity we saw is just tremendous. With such limited resources, the children have done so well by not only ideating but actually building items like travel luggage, flip flops...etc. I am delightfully surprised.”
We have received many positive feedback right after the event. Roberta, one of our supporters thanked us for creating and hosting such a wonderful event and that she thinks, “All the finalists were just amazing!" We will absolutely host similar event again and boost quality education with our children in rural Cambodia.
When asked about how the prizes won will help our students, Victoria said, “During school closures due to COVID-19, 60% of our scholarship children have no digital asset to enable their online learning. Therefore, we have decided to provide 4 smart phones and 260kg of rice as their prizes. With these smart phones, we are hoping to open more online education opportunities for our children in rural Cambodia and bringing the wider world to them.”
We are elated that Zero Waste has come to a fruitful end and we would like to celebrate our journey with this competition and the creations of all our participants whether they won or not. We are so proud of every single one of our participants and their creations. If you were not at the live event and would love to watch it, do not fret! We have the video up on our Facebook Channel, so do check it out and give us a follow! Also, if you’d like to support our children in Cambodia and provide them with more of such opportunities, visit our fundraising webpage. Your support is greatly appreciated!
Story written by: Volunteer Zeleen Thum
The school closure had been a particularly challenging period for both teachers, students and families, especially those who live in the rural areas, the very students that PeopleStories is reaching out to help.
Yes, the teachers are not only working hard to ensure that the students are keeping up in the learning, but also drumming the importance about ‘3 do not and 3 protect’, the new safety standards to keep everyone safe. The ‘3 do not’s’ are not staying in crowded areas; not going out unnecessarily; not staying in enclosed area with no air circulation. And the ‘3 protects’ mean to wear the mask in the right way; to wash the hands frequently and to keep a gap from one another.
Want to give us a helping hand supporting the dedicated teachers and students? https://bit.ly/PS100Dreams202021
Story written by: Volunteer Bok Hoon Ong
To break the cycle of poverty by advancing education for underprivileged students, families and communities in need.